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Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) won the Tour of Flanders to take her second Women’s WorldTour victory of the season.
Huge crowds lining the roadside lifted their arms to the sky, cheered, and threw beer into the air as Kopecky won Belgium’s most important cycling race wearing the Belgian national champion’s jersey.
She arrived at the finish line with Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and her SD Worx teammate, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, after the trio had escaped on the descent of the Paterberg and opened up a one minute gap over the rest of the race.
Kopecky proved the strongest in the sprint for the line, with van Vleuten finishing second and van den Broek-Blaak rounding out the podium.
“It’s quite overwhelming,” Kopecky said after the race. “I’m very thankful to my teammates of team SD Worx and I think this victory is not only for me but for them.”
“Normally, I know that I am faster than Annemiek but after a hard race we also know that Annemiek is fast. We also saw that in [Omloop Het] Niewsblad that we cannot be too confident, still I really backed myself to do the best possible sprint. I was quite confident but you are never sure. I knew that when she couldn’t drop me on the climbs that I had to be confident in the sprint.
“I have no idea [how to celebrate this victory]! I hope that I can do something with my teammates.”
— Ronde Van Vlaanderen (@RondeVlaanderen) April 3, 2022
Snow had fallen on the course during the week and, though the sky was clear, it was a cold spring day that greeted the riders on the start line in Oudenaarde. Ahead of them lay a 158 kilometers route punctuated by six cobbled sections and 11 short steep climbs, including the Koppenberg featuring for the first time in the women’s race.
A small breakaway formed shortly after the flag drop composed of American star Clara Honsinger (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), Sofie van Rooijen (Parkhotel Valkenburg), Olivia Baril (Valcar-Travel & Service, Kristyna Burlová (Lotto Soudal) and Maria Martins (Le Col-Wahoo).
Once the breakaway had settled into a controllable configuration, the peloton relaxed, allowing the gap to balloon to two minutes after 40km had been raced. In between these two groups, four riders – Makayla MacPherson (Human Powered Health), Katrijn de Clercq (Lotto Soudal), Lotte Popelier (Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport), and Naomi De Roeck (Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport) – counterattacked, gained a maximum gap of about a minute and were later joined by Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM).
The breakaway split on the cobblestones of Kerkgate leaving just Honsinger and Baril out front, while the SD Worx-led peloton began mopping up some of the early attackers.
Twenty kilometers later, splits also began to appear in the peloton on the steepest sections of the Molenberg; a small group escaped but was promptly chased down by Jumbo-Visma and FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine who had missed the move.
On nearly every climb, counter-attacks emerged from the peloton as teams sought to make the race difficult for the sprinters. Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco) attacked just before the Berendries and dangled off the front for a few kilometers while Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) accelerated on the Valkenberg.
With these injections of pace, the gap to the breakaway tumbled, allowing Camilla Alessio (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling), Marit Raaijmakers (Human Powered Health), and Maike van der Duijn (Le Col Wahoo) to jump across before the gap increased again, reaching 1:45 at the bottom of the Koppenberg.
Such was the strength of van Vleuten on the 22 percent gradient slopes of the Koppenberg that a group of eight riders following her wheel-tracks pulled away on the descent, but was caught ahead of the next climb. The breakaway too was caught ten kilometers later.
Then, with 34km still to race, the peloton split once more and a group of eleven riders, including Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), escaped and built up a lead of 49 seconds ahead of the Kruisberg.
Van Vleuten accelerated on the climb, followed by Kopecky (SD Worx) and Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine), and, as they were caught, Marlen Reusser attacked to bridge across to the lead group.
On the rain-slicked cobbles of the Oude Kwaremont, Reusser and Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine) proved to be the strongest members of the breakaway while behind them, van Vleuten attacked from the peloton, distancing everyone except Kopecky and van den Broek-Blaak.
The gap was nearly closed by the bottom of the Paterberg and, on the climb, van Vleuten and Kopecky joined Reusser at the front of the race. Van den Broek-Blaak joined them on the descent and attacked almost immediately, ten kilometers from the finish.
Van Vleuten bridged across but she was still unable to drop Kopecky who stuck to her back wheel, as she had done every time the Dutchwoman had accelerated during the race. This trio initially built up a slender lead of 20 seconds over a small chase group but as the race crept closer to the finish line, it reached a minute and became insurmountable.
Van den Broek-Blaak sat at the front of the group, controlling the pace for her teammate Kopecky who repaid her by outsprinting van Vleuten for the win.
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.
Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres WE Results
Stage Rank Name Team Time 1 KOPECKY Lotte Team SD Worx 4:11:21 2 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek Movistar Team 0:00 3 VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK Chantal Team SD Worx 0:02 4 SIERRA Arlenis Movistar Team 0:40 5 REUSSER Marlen Team SD Worx 0:40 6 LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:40 7 BROWN Grace FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:40 8 NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna Canyon//SRAM Racing 0:40 9 CHAPMAN Brodie FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:42 10 BASTIANELLI Marta UAE Team ADQ 1:10 11 PERSICO Silvia Valcar - Travel & Service 1:10 12 ROY Sarah Canyon//SRAM Racing 1:10 13 NORSGAARD Emma Movistar Team 1:10 14 MACKAIJ Floortje Team DSM 1:10 15 MAJERUS Christine Team SD Worx 1:10 16 BERTIZZOLO Sofia UAE Team ADQ 1:10 17 VOLLERING Demi Team SD Worx 1:10 18 MANLY Alexandra Team BikeExchange - Jayco 1:10 19 BOOGAARD Maaike UAE Team ADQ 1:10 20 VOS Marianne Team Jumbo-Visma 1:10 21 HOLDEN Elizabeth Le Col - Wahoo 1:10 22 CHABBEY Elise Canyon//SRAM Racing 1:10 23 BREDEWOLD Mischa Parkhotel Valkenburg 1:10 24 CONFALONIERI Maria Giulia Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling 1:10 25 KASTELIJN Yara Plantur-Pura 1:10 26 BRENNAUER Lisa Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling 1:13 27 CAVALLI Marta FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 1:13 28 BALSAMO Elisa Trek - Segafredo 1:13 29 HENDERSON Anna Team Jumbo-Visma 1:15 30 BIANNIC Aude Movistar Team 1:15 31 VAN DIJK Ellen Trek - Segafredo 1:18 32 PALADIN Soraya Canyon//SRAM Racing 1:18 33 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa Trek - Segafredo 1:37 34 SPRATT Amanda Team BikeExchange - Jayco 2:12 35 ANDERSEN Susanne Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 3:44 36 VAN DER DUIN Maike Le Col - Wahoo 3:44 37 CONSONNI Chiara Valcar - Travel & Service 3:44 38 GEORGI Pfeiffer Team DSM 3:44 39 MARKUS Femke Parkhotel Valkenburg 3:44 40 BORGSTRÖM Julia AG Insurance - NXTG Team 3:44 41 SMULDERS Silke Liv Racing Xstra 3:44 42 GASPARRINI Eleonora Camilla Valcar - Travel & Service 3:44 43 TOWERS Alice Le Col - Wahoo 3:44 44 EWERS Veronica EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 3:44 45 ALESSIO Camilla Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling 3:46 46 RAAIJMAKERS Marit Human Powered Health 3:46 47 BARIL Olivia Valcar - Travel & Service 3:46 48 BAKER Georgia Team BikeExchange - Jayco 3:46 49 CECCHINI Elena Team SD Worx 3:51 50 BRAND Lucinda Trek - Segafredo 3:51 51 DE WILDE Julie Plantur-Pura 4:09 52 SANGUINETI Ilaria Valcar - Travel & Service 4:09 53 LACH Marta Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling 4:09 54 DEMEY Valerie Liv Racing Xstra 4:09 55 OTTESTAD Mie Bjørndal Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 4:09 56 CROMWELL Tiffany Canyon//SRAM Racing 4:09 57 GOOSSENS Marthe Multum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team 4:09 58 JASKULSKA Marta Liv Racing Xstra 4:09 59 MEIJERING Mareille Multum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team 4:09 60 DRONOVA-BALABOLINA Tamara Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 4:09 61 DUVAL Eugénie FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 4:09 62 KERN Špela Massi - Tactic Women Team 4:09 63 ARZUFFI Alice Maria Valcar - Travel & Service 4:09 64 BORGHESI Letizia EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 4:09 65 KASPER Romy Team Jumbo-Visma 4:09 66 POIDEVIN Sara EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 4:09 67 AMIALIUSIK Alena Canyon//SRAM Racing 4:09 68 GERRITSE Femke Parkhotel Valkenburg 4:09 69 VAN DER HEIJDEN Inge Plantur-Pura 4:09 70 MARKUS Riejanne Team Jumbo-Visma 4:09 71 VAN DE VELDE Julie Plantur-Pura 4:09 72 BARNES Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 4:09 73 LABECKI Coryn Team Jumbo-Visma 8:01 74 PLUIMERS Ilse AG Insurance - NXTG Team 9:49 75 DE ZOETE Mylène AG Insurance - NXTG Team 9:49 76 VAN 'T GELOOF Marjolein Le Col - Wahoo 9:49 77 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg 9:49 78 LETH Julie Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 9:49 79 LE NET Marie FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 9:49 80 BRAAM Danique Bingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport 9:49 81 KIRCHMANN Leah Team DSM 9:49 82 WILLIAMS Lily Human Powered Health 9:49 83 FIDANZA Arianna Team BikeExchange - Jayco 9:49 84 HONSINGER Clara EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 9:49 85 MEERTENS Lone AG Insurance - NXTG Team 9:49 86 YONAMINE Eri Human Powered Health 9:49 87 KOOL Charlotte Team DSM 9:49 88 BUJAK Eugenia UAE Team ADQ 12:34 89 BUCH Hannah Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 12:55 90 WATERREUS Kylie Lotto Soudal Ladies 12:55 91 GEURTS Mijntje Lotto Soudal Ladies 12:55 92 DELBAERE Fien Multum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team 12:55 93 EKLUND Nathalie Massi - Tactic Women Team 12:55 94 CLAES Lotte Bingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport 12:55 95 DOCX Mieke Lotto Soudal Ladies 12:55 96 LECHNER Corinna Massi - Tactic Women Team 12:55 97 TEUTENBERG Lea Lin Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling 12:55 98 LUTRO Amalie Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 12:55 99 GONZÁLEZ Alicia Movistar Team 12:55 100 GUARISCHI Barbara Movistar Team 12:55 101 VAN DER HULST Amber Liv Racing Xstra 12:55 102 LANGLEY Emma EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 12:55 103 BARBIERI Rachele Liv Racing Xstra 12:55 104 SWINKELS Karlijn Team Jumbo-Visma 12:55
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.